formal and informal withdrawal; re-ordination; Buddhist monks; Buddhist nuns; Dharmaguptaka
At the apex of Buddhist monasticism are its fully ordained members—Buddhist monks (bhikṣu) and nuns (bhikṣuṇī). The texts on monastic discipline (vinayas) indicate that some monks and nuns, at certain points in their lives, may choose to withdraw from the saṃgha (monastic community). The vinaya texts from every tradition attempt to regulate such decisions, as well as the re-ordination of former monastics. In this paper, I focus on the Dharmaguptaka tradition, the vinaya of which has become standard in China and neighboring regions. My intention is to answer intriguing questions raised by Petra Kieffer-Pülz in her study on the re-ordination of nuns in the Theravāda tradition, which appeared in the first volume of this journal (2015–2016): which options are available to monks and nuns who wish to withdraw from the monastic community; and is it possible for them to gain readmission to the saṃgha? I also address a third question: what does this imply for the Dharmaguptaka tradition? My research focuses on the Dharmaguptaka vinaya, and on the commentaries of the most prominent Chinese vinaya master, Daoxuan (596–667 CE), whose work lies at the heart of standard—and contemporary—understanding of vinayas in China.
Abstract 159 1. Introduction 160 2. The Vinaya 163 2.1. Formal withdrawal from the monastic community 163 2.1.1. The formal withdrawal of monks 163 2.1.2. The formal withdrawal of nuns 171 2.2. Informal withdrawal from the monastic community 176 2.2.1. The informal withdrawal of monks 176 2.2.2. The informal withdrawal of nuns 179 2.3. Impediments to ordination 181 2.4 Concluding remarks 185 3. Daoxuan’s commentaries 187 4. Some notes on contemporary China 191 5. Conclusion 193 Acknowledgments 194 Abbreviations 194 References 194